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Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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MNS’s new flag runs into rough weather

IT News
Mumbai, Feb. 13

The Maharashtra state election commission (SEC) has sought clarification from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) about the use of the seal (Rajmudra) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on its new flag.
The notice has been issued by SEC Secretary Kiran Kurundkar on 5 February, 2020 seeking clarification from MNS about its new flag. MNS’s  new saffron-coloured flag bearing the octagonal ‘Rajmudra’ (royal seal) of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at its centre, was unveiled by MNS chief Raj Thackeray at recent party convention in Mumbai. Whereas the party’s earlier flag had stripes of saffron, blue and green colour.
The state election commission has sent the notice to MNS, in response to a complaints made by the “Sambhaji  Brigade”, “Jai Ho Foundation”, “Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh”, R. R. Patil Foundation and other  organisations.
Reacting to the charge, MNS leader Shirish Sawant claimed that the party is yet to receive any notice from the state election commission. Besides, the topic of party flag does not fall in the jurisdiction of the election commission.
Vinod Patil, President of R R Patil Foundation, said that he was pained to see the use of Rajmudra in the MNS flag and sought the state government’s action against the party. We have already written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackreay about this. There is a three-party government in the state. They should take action against the MNS. .We never thought that the royal seal of Shivaji Maharaj will be the part of MNS flag”.
Rajmudra is the Royal seal of Shivaji, the first Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire. The script is Devanagari and language Sanskrit. It is usually stamped on the head of the letter, and in some cases, back. Loosely translated, it reads, “Ever growing in splendour like the moon on the first day of the bright half of the month, and adored by the world, this seal of Shivaji, the son of Shahaji, shines for the benediction of all”.
It is believed that, Rajmudra was given to Shivaji Maharaj by his father Shahajiraje Bhosale when he (Shahajiraje) sent Jijabai (Shivaji’s mother) and young Shivaji to handle “Pune Jagir” (estate). The earliest letter found containing this ‘authenticity stamp’ is from the year 1639.
The rules related to the use of national emblem in school textbooks, books on history, art or culture or in any other form have been stipulated in the Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act  2005.
As per the Indian Copyright Act 1957, anonymous works, photographs, cinematographic works, sound recordings, government works, and works of corporate authorship or of international organizations enter the public domain 60 years after the date on which they were first published, counted from the beginning of the following calendar year (ie. as of 2020, works published prior to 1 January 1960 are considered public domain). Posthumous works (other than those above) enter the public domain after 60 years from publication date. Any other kind of work enters the public domain 60 years after the author’s death. Text of laws, judicial opinions, and other government reports are free from copyright. Photographs created before 1960 are in the public domain 50 years after creation, as per the Copyright Act 1911. It is to be seen whether MNS’s new flag violates existing rules.
MNS was founded in 2006 after Raj Thackeray split from Shiv Sena. Lately, the party was not performing well enough in elections. Now, with Shiv Sena holding the secular flag, MNS has switched on to Hindutva. Last Sunday it had also organised a mammoth pro-CAA/NRC/NPR rally in Mumbai.

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Indian girl scales Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 13

Kaamya Karthikeyan, a class VII student of Navy Children School (NCS) located at Colaba in South Mumbai, became the youngest girl in the world to summit Mt. Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America and outside of Asia.
The 12 year old Kaamya, daughter of Naval officer Cdr S. Karthikeyan, summitted the 6,962-metre (20841 feet) tall Argentinian mountain peak on first February (04.00 hrs), unfurling the Indian tricolour. Her expedition “Sahas” was flagged off by Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command in Mumbai in December 2019.
Mount Aconcagua, Spanish Cerro Aconcagus, mountain in western Mendoza province, west-central Argentina, , on the Chilean border. It is the highest point in the Western Hemisphere.
Aconcagua lies in the Southern Andes Mountains,although its peak is in Argentina, its western flanks build up from the coastal lowlands of Chile, just north of Santiago. Its name  originated from the Quechua Ackon Cahuak (“Sentinel of Stone”). Aconcagua is of volcanic origin, but it is not itself an active volcano. It has two summits—north and south—connected by a ridge (Cresta del Guanaco) that is about 0.6 mile (1 km) long. The first attempted ascent, made in 1883, failed; the highest (north) summit was first reached in 1897 by Swiss climber Matthias Zurbriggen.
The young mountaineering prodigy bags a long list of summits to her credit and swears by her running and cycling workouts to be the wind behind her wings. As a child, Kaamya had developed a deep passion for mountaineering as she listened to her father’s stories of Himalayan-scaling expeditions. Initially, she started with basic treks in Lonavala, (Pune, Maharashtra) at the age of three, and by nine, she had completed several high-altitude Himalayan treks with her parents including (Roopkund (5020 metres) in Uttarakhand.
She began exploring the Himalayas and trekked to many beautiful locations like the Chandrashila Peak, Har-ki Dun, Kedarkantha Peak, Roopkund Lake, Brighu Lake and Sar pass. Her most notable trekking accomplishment came in May 2017, when she trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17600 ft to become the Second youngest girl in the world to accomplish the feat.
In August 2017, Kaamya climbed Mt. Stok Kangri at 20187 Ft to become the youngest climber in the world to climb a peak above 20000 Ft or 6000 Meters. Last year (24 August 2019) she  summitted Mt Mentok Kangri II (6262 m) (20,544 feet) peak that overlooks the Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh. Her mission is to conquer the highest peaks in every continent and ski to both the Poles. She has already bested the highest peaks in Africa, Europe and Australia.
During her earlier stay in Vizag, Kaamya had participated in three editions of Vizag Navy Marathon, twice in the Hyderabad Triathlon, Pinkathon and Vizag Bay Marathon. But after moving to Mumbai six months ago, she has found a new found love in running, thanks to the running culture in the city. She is now not only a regular participant in the 10K category of the city’s runs, but has been finishing on the podium in events like Matheran Endurathon and Lonavala Varsha Marathon.
By next year (2021), she aims to complete the exclusive ‘Explorers Grand Slam’ - which involves the competitors to climb the tallest mountains in all continents besides skiing on the North Pole and South Pole - that has been achieved by just a handful of dare-devil adventurers on Earth.
 Her parents however say that the determination and focus that running imparts plays a huge role while negotiating those seemingly impossible climbs. They also note that her hard work in the outdoors has manifested into attitudinal enhancement, resulting in her drive to perform well in all spheres of life like academics and fine arts. Kaamya hopes to inspire a multitude of children to pursue their dreams and the general populace to take up an outdoor way of healthy life.

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“India is among top 20 countries likely at risk of importing Coronavirus” 

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 12

India is among the top 20 countries likely at risk of importing the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata figuring in the list of cities, which may be affected due to the disease.   
New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has a localised relative import risk of 0.066 per cent, with Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 0.034 per cent and Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport at 0.020 per cent. Other Indian airports in the list include Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi.
As per the study report based on “Berlin Model” of the Germany’s Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute,  India is in the 17th spot, followed by UAE in the 19th spot among a total of 30 countries at risk of importing the virus. Outside China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea are the most likely to import the infections, the report shows.
The Humboldt University and Robert Koch Institute has computed a list of countries at risk of importing the virus after analyzing air traffic patterns connecting 4,000 airports worldwide  with over 25,000 direct connections between them.
UAE’s Dubai airports has a localized relative import risk of 0.124%, Abu Dhabi at 0.050%, Sharjah – 0.002%. The Dubai Al Maktoum International posed no risk (0%) of importing the virus.
The report has been based on three factors - Relative import risk, Most probable spreading routes, Relative arrival time. According to the study, ‘relative import risk’ is the percentage of infected individuals who may be travelling from an affected area - in this case China.
The busier a flight route, the more probable it has an infected passenger travelling this route. Using these probabilistic concepts, relative import risk to other airports is calculated, the report stated. When calculating the import risk, the factors like connecting flights and travel routes that involve multiple destinations are taken into consideration.
What is relative import risk? According to the study, “relative import risk” is the percentage of infected individuals who may be travelling from an affected area - in this case China. “Going by air travel passenger numbers, the estimate of  virus spread in to other areas, is worked out. The busier a flight route, the more probable it has an infected passenger travelling this route. Using these probabilistic concepts, relative import risk to other airports, is calculated.
The core of the computational model used to prepare this report is the worldwide air transportation network, which has 3893 nodes (airports) connected by 51476 directed links (connections between airports). Each link is weighted by the traffic flux between nodes, i.e. the average number of passengers that travel that route per day.
Definition of relative import risk
“If an infected individual boards a plane at airport A in an affected region, the relative import risk P (B|A) at airport B quantifies the probability that airport B is the final destination for that individual (irrespective of non-direct travel routes). Say, a hypothetical 1000 infected individuals board planes at Hangzhou Airport. An import risk of 0.2 per cent in Germany means that, of those 1000 individuals, only 2 are expected to have Germany as their final destination” states the report.
As of now, the most confirmed cases of coronavirus outside mainland China are in Japan (45), Singapore (28), Thailand (25), Hong Kong (24), and South Korea (23). This is considered a partial success for the report based on “Berlin model”.

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Coronavirus out break, supply of vital drug ingredients hit

IT News
Mumbai, Feb 11

As a sequel to the Novel Coronavirus out break in China, the supply of actual pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) has been severely affected and the Drug Controller of India (DCI) has directed the Food and Drug Administrations (FDAs) across the country to collect information of available stocks of 58 APIs, from drug manufacturers.
API is the part of any drug that produces the intended effects. Some drugs, such as combination therapies, have multiple active ingredients to treat different symptoms or act in different ways. Production of APIs has traditionally been done by the pharmaceutical companies, in their home countries. But in recent years many corporations have opted to send manufacturing overseas to cut costs.
Nearly 75-85%  ingredients are imported from China. Some 354 drugs and drug ingredients were imported from China in 2017 and the situation was same in the year that followed. But due to the coronavirus, import of APIs has come to a standstill. The Hubei province is considered as a hub of API manufacture. Since January, Hubei remains in a state of lockdown to limit the spread of the virus and imports of APIs from China have stopped. Prior to that,  the supply was slow because of the Chinese New Year and holiday season during December.
A top official from Maharashtra FDA confirmed that the instructions to take stock of APIs have been received from DCI and the information is being collected from the manufacturers. The government is also collecting data on overseas manufacturers of APIs, the quantity imported since 2018, as well as the production capacities of domestic manufactures in case a scale-up is needed.
Some of the APIs include:  Cyclosporine,  Clozapine, Clindamycin hydrochloride, Cyclophosphamide, Ciprofloxacin, Methotrexate, Carbamazepine, Lithium carbonate,  Phenytoin, Phenytoin sodium, Lamivudine, Penicillamine, Thiabendazole, Efavirenz,  Nevirapine, Rifampicin, Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Zidovudin, Aciclovir and Ampicillin.
 Lopinavir and Ritonavir, are used for HIV/AIDS treatment and have been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for treatment of coronavirus infection. Amoxicillin, Cephalexine are used as common antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, Rifampicin is used in tuberculosis regimen. Paracetamol, Doxycycline, Gentamycin, Prednisolone, Meropenam are commonly used APIs.
China remains a major supplier of not just antibiotics, but also Vitamin B12, B1, B6, and E to India. The manufacturers in India had faced a spurt in prices earlier and imports were stopped from China, for some time.  For finished products we have a month’s stock right now. But if the situation continues, we need to do something, Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) Secretary General Daara B Patel, said.
Coronavirus and its impact in India will be a worrisome factor. If domestic production, that accounts for 30 per cent of APIs, is unable to cope up, key medicine supply for malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and even diabetes may get hampered and even National health schemes can get affected.
The India pharma industry’s reliance on China for its bulk drugs and APIs and the risk this poses to India’s health security has been a subject of policy discussions for many years now, but with little follow-up action. The current situation is a “call for action” for India to shore up its strength when it comes to drug intermediates, since India imports over 60 per cent of its requirement from China, Secretary-General of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance Secretary-General Sudarshan Jain said.
Industry executives fear that if the situation does not improve soon, the cost of materials used to make medicines in India will rise regardless of therapeutic category. In the case of products that are under price control, the prices that customers pay should not be impacted.  On earlier occasions, industry bodies had sought an increase in the maximum retail prices of these medicines, arguing that they were unable to recover the cost of manufacturing them.
In the meanwhile, ICMR stated that all the 654 samples from quarantine centres tested proved negative and they will be retested on the day 14 of the quarantine period.  Out of 918 samples referred from suspected cases,, three confirmed laboratory positive for nCoV. In addition to ICMR, NIV, Pune, 13 Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories across the country and National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi are performing testing.

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